Hey, Is Closing All But Two Polling Places In A Mostly Black County Racist? Asking For Georgia.
The ACLU is seriously pissed at a Georgia county that's planning to shut down most of its polling places before this fall's elections. Why, yes, the residents are primarily black and poor, and the Randolph County Board of Elections is mostly Republican. And this is happening before an election that's expected to have heavy turnout, because the Democratic candidate for governor, Stacey Abrams, could become Georgia's first black governor. Closing 75 percent of the polling places in a predominantly black county just might have an effect on the statewide results. Who could have seen this coming when the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, except everybody?
In a letter to the elections board, ACLU of Georgia Legal Director Sean Young (not the star of Blade Runner) wrote to demand the polling places be kept open. Young also warned closing seven of the county's nine polling places may violate what's left of the Voting Rights Act by primarily hurting African-American voters. Of course it would -- Randolph County is 61 percent black, compared to half that proportion in Georgia overall.
The ACLU also filed a records request for all information on the county's decision-making process, because -- cynical folks those civil rights people can be -- they suspect heinous fuckery most foul.
The timing of your proposal is also suspicious and calls to question your true motives behind this proposal. These are the exact same polling places used in the primary and primary run-off earlier this year. It makes no sense to suddenly reduce the number of polling places for this November's election, which will see far higher voter turnout than in the primaries or the primary run-off. Your proposal has also been plagued by procedural irregularities that cast further doubt about the real motivation behind these proposals
Young noted the polling places slated for closure had previously been used in this year's primaries and the primary runoff, so suddenly closing them and requiring people to vote elsewhere in the general would cause confusion and worse: voters in rural areas who would have been able to walk to the polls will now have to vote ten miles or more away, making same-day access to the polls far more difficult.
For a voter with a car, that adds about 10 to 20 minutes of driving to reach the new polling place; for a voter without a car, that is a 3.5 hour walk. And there is no public transportation from these outlying areas[.]
The voter suppression is exactly this transparent:
Indeed, the eliminated polling place with the highest registered voter population, Cuthbert Middle School, serves a 96.7% Black population (330 registered voters out of 341 registered voters assigned to the polling place).
ACLU of Georgia executive director Andrea Young told the AP this is exactly the sort of overt racist fuckery the Voting Rights Act had prevented, at least until the Supreme Court sent a major provision right down the fucking toilet. Before 2013, areas with a history of ratfucking minority voting, like Randolph County, had to get clearance from a federal court before changing voting rules. But the Supremes decided racism is over, so now local officials can ratfuck away and hope they won't get caught. Of course, Ms. Young said it more diplomatically: "This is an example of what localities are doing without the pre-clearance requirement."
Sean Young testified against the polling place closures at Thursday's public hearing of the elections board, and a second hearing will be held today. In his prepared remarks, Young said the records request only turned up an email from the county director of registration and elections, requesting the state draw up a map eliminating seven polling places. But the email offered no reasons for the change. Here's how an ACLU lawyer warns a county it may be begging for a federal lawsuit:
So, either there are reasons behind this proposal that someone is trying to hide, or this email exchange really constitutes all the thought that went into this proposal, which is apparently very little.
"With such an obvious discriminatory impact and no reasonable, lawful explanation given for the proposal, it's almost as if the proposal is trying to limit on purpose African-American voter turnout. The evidence is there. And if that's what's happening, the board's legal troubles are deeper than imagined.
We're sure the county has a reasonable explanation, like the high cost of having exactly the same polling places it already used in two previous elections this year. That must be it.
Bobby Jenkins, chair of the Randolph County Democratic Party, told the Albany Herald the move stinks to high heaven, because apart from a tiny legal notice last week, there was no warning at all the elections board planned to close over THREE QUARTERS of the county's polling places:
[We] feel that that was deliberate. The timing of it is just bad. This is in the middle of the election cycle [...] it would appear that this was a deliberate attempt to decrease the participants in the voting process. That's why we said that it's voter suppression.
Jenkins also said Randolph County has a history of attempted fuckery based on race, noting a 2006 federal case in which voters challenged the election board's attempt to undermine black representation on a local school board -- in an unannounced meeting, no less.
Jenkins described the current two-member election board as "one person shy of a dictatorship." "
Right now, there are only two members on the board because one resigned to run for an elected position," he said. "But this board has a history of doing things of a discriminatory nature."
We like this Bobby Jenkins! Also, support your local papers, kids -- not a word of that local insight in the AP story.
The ACLU is unlikely to let this stupidity stand, so et ready for the Usual Suspects to whine that liberals see racism everywhere, like when needless obstacles are put in the way of African Americans voting.
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